To continue in the spoilsport vein (or, as I like to think of it, the critically astute vein), I think part of the problem with the Tony telecast is that the show hasn't gotten very good ratings in recent years, and CBS seems to be trying to boost the ratings by including a lot of presenters who are well-known from movies and TV, as opposed to people who work primarily in the theater. I'm not talking about legitimate stage actors who also work in movies or TV (like Jerry Orbach), but about people like Megan Mullaly and Sandra Oh, neither of whom has any Broadway experience, and who were probably just there to keep people from tuning out when they didn't see anybody they recognized. Call me a curmudgeon, but I think the Tony awards program should be about theater.
I agree about using TV faces to keep the public's interest. (Marcia Cross???)
But I must beg to differ on Megan Mullally:
And to think I thought I had verified my facts by looking her up on ibdb first! Turns out, I had misspelled her name by leaving out one of the "l"s, which is why ibdb couldn't find any credits for her. (In my defense, I think ibdb should have a more sophisticated search engine -- I think if you misspell a name on imdb, it finds similarly-spelled names for you.)
Looks like Sandra Oh worked off-Bway at least. She won a Theatre World award for her role in Stop Kiss at the Public Theatre in 1998. (Which gives her one up - at least - on Marcia Cross, etc.)
But of course, she's much better known for Sideways and Gray's Anatomy.
I knew about Sandra Oh's off-Broadway appearance in "Stop Kiss", which is why I was very careful to say she had no "Broadway experience" -- I didn't know about her Canadian and San Diego stage work, though. And I had forgotten she was in the movie "Guinevere", which I loved.
Me too. I rented Guinevere fairly recently, and enjoyed it. In fact, just after I saw Sideways, she kept popping up. I finally saw Under the Tuscan Sun at about the same time.
I forget how I knew that Megan Mullally was in How to Succeed... I've known that for so long that I've forgotten the source. Seems like I knew that even before Will & Grace. I didn't see it nor do I own the cast album. Maybe I just read the reviews and her name stuck in my head.
Oooh. I saw "The Red Violin".
After reading mac's post, I just have to say: Oh, good -- someone else who has a head full of information she doesn't know how she acquired!
I didn't see "The Red Violin" -- how was it?
I loved "The Red Violin". It tells the stories of five of the violin's owners over a period of three centuries and takes place in Italy, Poland, England, China and Canada (the characters speak the language appropriate to their locale (subtitled). The scenery is stunning. (Joshua Bell is the violinist.) There's an added touch of mystery, as the movie begins and ends with the violin being auctioned in Canada and we realize as we watch the anxious bidders that they are descendants of the original owners.
From tomorrow's New York Times (you heard it here first), here's an article about fall-out from the Tonys, including how the attempts to raise the show's ratings either did or didn't pay off (depending on whom you listen to).
June 7, 2005
A Boost From Tony If Not Nielsen
By JESSE McKINLEY
The day after a remarkably democratic Tony Awards, the talk along Broadway was all about numbers: musical, financial and - of course - Nielsen.
The evening's big winner, "Monty Python's Spamalot," the newly minted best musical, was reveling in the types of sales that make producers happy if less than forthcoming. Adrian Bryan-Brown, the spokesman for that show, which won three Tonys in all, would not talk exact figures but said the production was having a "much stronger Monday than usual" and confirmed that its advance sales had topped $29 million. By comparison, last week that figure stood at a paltry $27 million.
But a night after no show swept the major awards - like "The Producers" in 2001 or "Hairspray" in 2003 - many shows had reasons to celebrate. And although the figures offered up by producers are not official (or completely verifiable), the mood inside many production offices seemed buoyant yesterday.
"The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," for example, which won two Tonys (for best book and featured actor in a musical, Dan Fogler) doubled its daily sales on Sunday night in the hours after the broadcast of its production number - which featured the Rev. Al Sharpton as a shy speller and got some big laughs inside Radio City Music Hall. And yesterday, those healthy sales continued, with its daily take expected to top more than $200,000.
It looked to be an even bigger day for "The Light in the Piazza," which led all shows with six Tony Awards, including best score (Adam Guettel) and best actress in a musical (Victoria Clark). For "Piazza," staged at the nonprofit Lincoln Center Theater, box-office figures are less important than for commercial productions. But good sales are always welcome, and producers at Lincoln Center were expecting to take in more than $300,000 yesterday, a show spokesman said.
Even "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels," which held out hope of winning best musical but won only a single Tony, got a big bump in sales from its production number "Great Big Stuff," which featured its energetic Tony winner, Norbert Leo Butz, practically channeling the hyperactive comedian Jack Black. Michael Hartman, a spokesman for the show, said sales were up "100 percent" from a normal Monday, meaning the show would probably take in close to $300,000.
On the dramatic side, "Doubt," which won awards for best play, two of its actors (Cherry Jones and Adriane Lenox) and its director (Doug Hughes), tripled its daily sales, its producers said.
But the news was far less encouraging for the Tonys' Nielsen ratings. PMK/HBH, the high-powered publicity firm, was brought in - and paid well - to help market the Tonys this year. The pre-show celebrity walks down the red carpet were televised on the TV Guide Channel, while the awards ceremony itself had some Hollywood stars as presenters, including Sally Field, Laurence Fishburne and Billy Crystal (who won a Tony for best special theatrical event and did an opening monologue).
But according to preliminary numbers, the celebrities did almost nothing to increase the flat overnight national ratings, showing only a slight increase of about 160,000 viewers. In years past, a number of factors have been blamed for the low ratings, including competition from the N.B.A. playoffs and new episodes of hot HBO shows like "The Sopranos" or "Six Feet Under." This year, however, the show had no such competition, but still drew only 6.6 million viewers, up 2 percent from last year's audience of about 6.5 million viewers.
Jed Bernstein, the president of the League of American Theaters, which presents the Tonys with the American Theater Wing, a charitable organization, pointed out that the awards had also gained viewers in major markets like New York, Los Angeles and Washington.
"Would we like to be higher? We always want it to be higher," Mr. Bernstein said. "But ratings-wise it was a pretty good night."
The Tonys organizers have an option to rehire PMK/HBH for next year's Tonys, but no decision has been made yet. "Overall we had a lot of visibility, between the marketing and public relations," Mr. Bernstein said. "The red carpet had some real glamour and heat, and that bodes well in the long run."
Much as I like Tammy Grimes, and excellent as she was in "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" her award for featured actress was one of those permissable but misleading awards since she was obviously the lead not supporting actress. The show was around the time of "Sound of Music", "Camelot", and "Irma la Douce", and the producers who determine the category in which to enter the actors and actresses probably wanted to avoid the severe competition. Actually, she was so good she would have had a shot at the leading actress award against any competition. To be truthful, I'm not sure if the producers actually determine the category for their stars, but they do have the opportunity to "lobby" those who do.
Quite right, flyboy. Tammy was obviously the lead!
I did a little research on her competition that year (1961). Her fellow nominees for Best Featured Actress in a Musical were Nancy Dussault in Do Re Mi and Chita Rivera in Bye Bye Birdie.
The Best Actress in a Musical category had Julie Andrews in Camelot, Carol Channing in Show Girl, Nancy Walker in Do Re Mi, and the winner was Elizabeth Seal in Irma La Douce.
I'm not sure if the producers actually determine the category for their stars, but they do have the opportunity to "lobby" those who do.
This year, the producers of Glengarry Glen Ross supposedly lobbied the Tony rules committee to consider Alan Alda the lead in that play, so he could be nominated in the "best actor" category instead of "best featured actor". Apparently they thought he'd have a better chance of winning if he were nominated as best actor, and also it would give the show a shot at two acting awards, instead of having all its acting nominations crammed into the "best featured actor" category (which is what happened, when the Tony rules committee ruled that the entire cast Glengarry Glen Ross consisted of featured actors).